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Celebrating Girls in Technology – The Power of Mentorship

April 24, 2014 - 18 Comments

Today is International Girls in ICT Day and Cisco has been celebrating all month long by hosting fun and instructive mentoring events that have been designed to help to educate young women about careers in information and communications technology (ICT).  With over 70 events taking place globally from Belarus to Boxborough, one thing is clear – girls love technology!  Let’s work together to keep it that way.

As the world transforms into a more connected network of people, processes, data and things, there are unprecedented opportunities for countries, businesses and individuals, as well as for society at large. However, for the Internet of Everything to become a reality, we need a highly trained and ICT-skilled workforce of the future.

Take for example the startling statistics released by the White House that women today currently earn 41% of PhD’s in STEM fields, but make up only 28% of tenure-track faculty in those fields.  Additionally, there has been a steep decline in the number of female graduates with computer science degrees over the past three decades. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of computer science degrees awarded to women peaked at 37 percent between 1984 and 1985. Compare this to only 18 percent of the degrees awarded to women in the period between 2008 and 2011.

The time to address these challenges is now, and Cisco, we are taking several steps to do just that, starting by becoming a founding partner in US2020.  We have pledged to encourage 20 percent of our workforce to spend 20 hours a year on STEM mentoring by the year 2020, with a particular emphasis on encouraging women and girls to enter STEM.

The power of mentorship is more important today than ever to help young girls and women not only remain passionate about science, technology, engineering and math but also to believe that they, too, will be the future leaders in these fields.   Don’t just take my word for it, please check out this video that captures some insights and advice from some impressive Cisco leaders that encourage young girls and women to chart a course for their career in technology.

Future STEM leaders include your daughters, your sisters, your wives, your employees and your students.  What are you personally doing to mentor and empower them?

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  2. In the UK, Cisco are a partner for the Blooodhound project – which plans to exceed 1000Mph in a combined rocket and jet powered car!

    A big part of that project is around educating kids – boys AND girls about STEM and to consider STEM careers.

    As an ambassador for the project, I’m continually amazed by the persistence old-school stereotyping of what STEM subjects and careers are all about.

    The project is constantly on the lookout for more amabassors – apply if you want to help make a difference 🙂

  3. What we need is STEAM!

  4. What a treat it has been to see such interest from Cisco employees who want to get involved in STEM mentoring. Cisco has a culture of giving back that is embedded in all levels of the company and we have always encouraged our employees to volunteer in their communities.

    In this fiscal year alone with another full quarter to go, 10,956 employees globally have volunteered an impressive 102,353 hours! We started measuring STEM-specific mentoring and volunteering in August as a part of our endorsement of US2020, and already we see 10,000+ hours of STEM mentoring in the US alone; 650+ employees are investing their intellectual and social capital in the next generation of scientists, engineers, and tech workers.

    Want to get involved? Complete an interest form with US2020 to get connected to STEM mentoring near you. Cisco employees specifically may view and bookmark the Cisco Citizen WebEx Social Community to learn more about the Global Civic Council and STEM Volunteering supported by Cisco

    • I am based in Switzerland, and I am already involved with girls career day, mentoring new hire women, etc. But is there a possibility for me to get involved in STEM, even though it is a US based program?

  5. Awesome.. How can we as Cisco employees get involved ?

  6. Cisco’s commitment to US2020, STEM, Citizen Schools, WiSE, Connected Women, Women in Technology, Girls Scouts, etc. is making a difference. We’ve hosted them on our campus to see and feel our technology and you literally see their passion come alive. Aligning them with respective mentors and providing the visibility shown in the video will inspire them to join us. We’re also working on getting ourselves in classrooms (Middle Schools and High Schools) so they see successful role models. An untapped opportunity is reaching out to part-time women as well as mother’s re-entering the workforce with different experiences and perspectives. Lot’s of opportunities for us to lead, thanks for sharing this post!

  7. How can we as Cisco employees get involved ?

  8. This is awesome. I think we as women in technology can help make the US2020 vision happen. Please let me know, how I can help.

  9. Surely it is a great thing to support Girls prosper in ICT. As this industry surely offers the Women of Tomorrow much more flexibility in the workspace.

    Also I was wondering if the decline in number of women passing out with STEM bachground, is a challenge or a trend?

    As due to more options and opportunities that are available to esp. women now, are they prefering and shining more in the areas of management, corporate leadership, fashion, mass communication, media, journalism, sports, economics, banking & finance, and similar fields, rather than necessarily sticking to STEM.

    So it may be an emerging trend, and not necessarily a challenge, however it is must to support this endeavor so that girls get all the opportunities to be more successful in the field of ICT as well, and for sure, technology is indeed a girl’s best friend!!

  10. Is cisco invovled in similar initiatives outside the US?
    In particular – I am thinking about Korea, where women graduate at the top of their university classes (both stem and steam…), have a high rate of participation in the work force between ages 20-30 but then drop out of the work force. There are government incentives for both the women and employers to encourage both re-entry and retention of women – but I think that Cisco can participate with a similar mentorship program here, if it isn’t doing so already.

  11. I fully support encouraging women in STEM but we, as a nation, must not forget the Arts. To modify Einstein’s quote, “Science without Arts is lame; Arts without Science is insipid.”

    What we need is STEAM!

  12. I am fully supportive. I am doing my bit by conducting a free programming class for my daughter and her friends every weekend for two hours. They are building mobile apps for iOS/Android.

  13. It’s definitely positive thing. Women can do IT jobs same as men. Go women!!

  14. I support STEM For girls across globe-nalini

  15. I support anything that supports girls/women initiatives, when we can get our sisters,wives,aunts, etc.. ahead with these great ideas, we are moving our world ahead more than 10 steps, we need women involvements in these endeavors… it is worthwhile… thanks CISCO!!!

  16. This is great to see the Cisco focus at a holistic level! As part of our Cisco San Jose based Connected Women’s group, we are doing work with both Citizen schools and the Girl Scouts to promote young girls in technology. Love all the passion!